Unidentified People

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Gallery: Unidentified People
People Shamokin Folklore

The Tragic Death of Martin Gross

Martin, son of Ludwig Goss, was a stout handsome man, full of fun, who lived in Gosstown (Uniontown) halfway between “Spook” bridge and the Rock Cut.  His life had seen no great feats unless you consider raising six sons and several daughters in a log cabin an accomplishment.  His eerie death accomplished what his life could not; he became a celebrity.

The social event of the year for these pioneer folk was a frolic on the first day of January 1830 at the house of Mr. Dunkelberger in West Shamokin.  People came in two-horse wagons, carts, and some even came riding oxen.  At such frolics, an abundance of coarse victuals and applejack, which all imbibed freely, was served.  Usually fiddling and dancing continued past midnight.

Upon getting dark on the night referred to, Martin Goss being about 75 years old, insisted on going home.  His wife being years his junior, declined to go.  So the old man left alone and, in order to save distance and time, traveled over the footpath that ran through present-day Uniontown.  This compelled him to walk over a makeshift footbridge near his home.  This temporary bridge was made of slab benches.  In crossing these slabs, he slipped and fell, face down, into the rushing water of Shamokin Creek. 

Soon after, his body was discovered and the word was relayed back to the house of mirth.  Everyone there left immediately for the scene of the tragedy.  They sent someone several miles for the acting coroner, who later reported as follows:  “When I came I found the woods illuminated by the bright blaze of log heaps that had been put together and fired, and the dead man still lying in the water.  I ordered him brought out to the bank of the creek, but no one would obey.  I then repeated my request but no move was made and all stood as quiet as a Quaker meeting.  I then walked along the slabs to where the dead man lay and took hold of the collar of his coat.  As soon as this was done, a dozen man rushed into the water, without regard to cold or wet, and carried him out where we held the inquest.  I then asked some of them why they left him lay in the water for so long and refused at first to take him out.  Their answer was that if they had touched the dead man before the magistrate did, he could spook them throughout their lives.” 

Thus, from this accident, the red bridge erected near the point of the drowning some years later was called the “Spook Bridge.”  It was said that for many years afterwards, older residents could not be induced to cross the bridge after nightfall.

Businesses People

Frank Posca

A Glimpse of Shamokin’s Past Through Frank Posca’s Lenses

Frank and Dorothy Posca, 1978

Francesco (Frank) Posca as born in the province of Calabria in Southern Italy on June 15, 1901. The youngest of four children, he worked with his father and learned the family trade if shoemaking as he grew up. Frank’s father came to Shamokin in 1912, acquired the tools and machinery he needed, and set up a shoe repair shop. He wanted to bring his family to Shamokin and returned to Italy in 1916 for that reason but became ill and never was able to come back to America.

In 1919, Frank’s father encouraged Frank to leave Italy so he immigrated to America and reopened his father’s business in Shamokin. He supported his family who remained in Italy and attended night school to learn the English language and American customs. On May 25, 1927 he was naturalized and became a United States citizen.

There was not much demand for handmade shoes in America so Frank repaired shoes and did orthopedic work for people with special needs. He developed an interest in photography and enjoyed taking pictures of people, places and events around the community as a hobby.

Frank Posca’s Shoe Repair Shop today – 320 N. Shamokin Street

Frank eventually set up a darkroom in the back of his shoe repair shop, and learned to develop film and print pictures. He experimented with different types of film and photo papers and learned to use lights to his advantage as he cleverly composed and captured images.

Frank also enjoyed music and learned to play the violin. He joined the St. John’s Evangelical and Reformed Church and played in the Sunday School Orchestra. He always had a love for music and the arts.

In 1932, Frank met Dorothy Thompson and they married on May 26, 1934. The shoe repair business prospered and the shop became a gathering place in the neighborhood. People stopped by to rehash the day’s events, watch Frank work on shoes, and see his latest photographs. Frank also learned to repair cameras and offered advice to those who wanted to take better photos. He joined a local photo club and took his camera wherever he went.

Frank continued to support his mother who remained in Italy. During World War II, communications were disrupted and Frank did not learn that his mother passed away until the war was over. Over the years he took thousands of pictures and captured life in Shamokin – both celebrations and tragedies.

Frank ran the shoe repair business until 1986. After he retired, he spent a lot of his time reviewing and cataloging his photographs. Frank left this world on August 22, 1994 but left behind a legacy of photographs of Shamokin, the town he called home and loved.

Shamokin News-Dispatch (September 10, 1927)

Frank Posca

Central Shoe Repairing Shop

320 Shamokin Street, Shamokin, PA

The Central Shoe Repair Shop at 320 Shamokin street is undoubtedly one of the finest and most completely equipped establishments of its kind in this entire section. Originally the firm had been located at 410 Shamokin Street and in that location Mr. Frank Posca, the genial and business-like proprietor, carried on a large trade. As the business grew from year to year, Mr. Posca, with characteristic zeal and forethought, cast about for a larger and more commodious location in order that his patronage be served more conveniently and satisfactorily and for the past three years he has been going ahead in a steady progressive manner at 320 Shamokin street attending to the needs of his large patronage.

The shop is completely equipped with the latest and most modern electrical machinery and nothing is used in the repairing of shoes but the best grade quality of leather. The firm’s affairs extend over a radius of eight to ten miles and includes most of the towns adjacent to Shamokin. The United Shoe Repairing Co. has honored Mr. Posca with the official red sign of the Goodyear Welt Shoe Repairing in recognition of his splendid work.

Satisfaction is guaranteed and Mr. Posca’s lifetime of experience in the shoe business enables him to offer a satisfactory and competent service.

Mr. Frank Posca has been a resident of Shamokin for the past six years and because of his likeable personality and honest business policies has established a large host of friends throughout the entire section. He has always taken an active interest in community affairs and is the type of citizen the town can feel proud of.

Clipping from Shamokin News-Dispatch – September 10, 1927

Recent Posts with Frank Posca’s Photos